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  1. Default Tucson,AZ to Seattle,WA

    Hey everyone, (happy holidays)

    My first time posting on this forum, also one of the first roadtrips I plan to do! I'm a college student in Portland, OR, but I'm home for the holidays in Tucson. I'm planning to drive my car from Tucson to Seattle (where my Dad lives) and stop in San Francisco along the way to drop off some fellow roadtrippers. Once in Seattle, I will eventually drive back down to Portland (not a drive I'm concerned about, made it many times) to have my car on campus.

    The drive from Tucson to Seattle is, according to Mapquest, around 1600miles that would take 24 hours to complete. I'd like to make as a quick a journey as possible, not looking to take a leisurely pace per se. My friends and I will be taking turns making the drive.

    My parents and I, however, are concerned about encountering wintry conditions along the way. I have a 95 Toyota Avalon, sedan, not anything that's really suited for intense winter driving. Has anyone else made the journey from AZ to WA? Are there any mountainous areas that need to be driven through, and if so, how challenging can I expect them to be? I'm trying to take the most direct, but also most safe route. I'm not concerned with scenery or whatever else, just a safe, quick drive.

    I would be making the trip around the 10th or 11th of January, leaving early in the morning with the plan to make it to SF by late evening, should conditions allow. Any general tips on this trip and insight would be deeply appreciated.


  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default Shared Concerns

    Welcome aboard the RoadTrip America Forums!

    I would also have concerns about this trip. Some are similar to what you've mentioned, but others include the fact that this trip is going to be a lot closer to 30 hours of driving rather than the 24 you seem to think. First off, the drive is longer, nearly 1700 miles, and the time estimates you'll get from any software will be wildly optimistic to the point of fantasy. Those estimates assume you'll never stop for even 1 minute: You'll never need gas. You'll never need to eat. You'll never need to go to the bathroom. You'll never see a red light, even driving through San Francisco. You'll never have to slow down behind a semi. You'll never see a speed limit below 65 mph.

    Another concern is the assumption that you can drive straight through without sleep. You seem to have several drivers available for the first leg to San Francisco, but that's the easy part where you'll all be excited and you can all probably make it without a problem. How many will be on the second, harder, leg to Seattle? Will they all have gotten a good sleep on the way to San Francisco? How do you plan to do that in a small, packed car with no room to stretch out? Do you have at least three drivers for the second leg? You will need two people awake at all times to ensure that the driver does not dose off. How many will be on the final leg back to Portland? As you note, this leg is very familiar, i.e. boring, and the few remaining drivers will be exhausted. NOT a recipe for a safe trip.

    Finally, while the Interstates, I-10 and I-5, are the safest roads available, even they have stretches that cross mountain passes at relatively high elevation and can be subjected to snowstorms or icing. You will need to have chains available and know how to put them on and drive with them on before you set out. How much practice can you get between now and when you leave?

    Ultimately, the single factor that you have the most control over, and which you are throwing away, is the time you have available to make a safe trip. If you have to make this trip in 24 hours, then it cannot be made safely. If you don't, why are you trying to?


  3. Default

    Thanks for the insight, AZBuck.

    I wasn't aware of the true length of the drive until you brought it to my attention. Let me clarify that it is NOT essential that I make it there quickly. I guess I was asking IF I could make it there quickly. If conditions have the potential to be dangerous, as you say, then I will of course you utmost caution and patience when making the drive.

    I'm driving with two others. We would take turns driving to SF, then stay the night, and me and the other friend would make the final leg of the trip the next morning. Once arriving in Seattle, we would stay there for a few days, before making the quick drive back down to Portland.

    I spoke with a family member who has made the drive before and he has this to say:

    "As far as mountains....... I don't know. If that's going to be a problem, the best suggestion I have is to take the 10 all the way up to LA, it's a longer drive I think, but it's the simplest, least treacherous thing you could do. I don't know if snow/ice/rain will be that much of a problem for you."

    Of course, he made the drive over the summer, which is a completely different story. How does his advice sound to you?

    Let me once again stress that, ultimately, safety is my number one priority. Restful sleep will be had during various parts of the trip, especially before going from SF to Seattle.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin

    Default what else?

    I'm really confused about what other options you are thinking about other than I-10 to I-5 for your route.

    I-5 has several mountain passes, all along the west coast. The first one is just north of LA and it occationally sees snow. The other frequent problem spots are right at the CA/OR border, and then a few more smaller passes in Oregon.

    Tucson to SF is nearly 900 miles and a brutally long day on the road. SF to Seattle is another 800 miles and will be a nightmare trying to do this after being on the road for upwards of 18 hours the day before. Quite frankly, making the drive to SF in one day with 3 people is possible, but I have serious doubts about your ability to safely drive onto Seattle the next day, especially when you've only got 2 drivers. I would strongly encourage you to rethink and rework this plan. You are trying to push yourself way way too hard.

  5. Default

    i will be driving from Bellingham, Wa to Los Angeles, CA on the 15th of january.
    i have a honda crx and have been doing lots of reading about this trip prior to posting. i have made long distance drives many times(tulsa, ok to flagstaff, az in 1 day, 2 times) the only real concern i have with this trip is that it is in the middle of the winter, and i will be going through the cascades which i from searching has made me slightly frightened to say the least. Is there an alternate route around the mountains that I am not seeing on the map that would be safe and time efficient? or would it be possible to shoot I-5 straight through and everything that i have read is exaggerated?

    i found this site and it seems to be helpful but i am really looking for a native to the area or someone who has made the trip before to shed some light on what looks to be a dangerous drive.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default Safer

    Welcome aboard the RoadTrip America Forums!

    I-5 is easily your best bet. The Interstates are built to standards which limit both the grade and curvature of the roadway, plus they are the most heavily traveled and the first to get plowed and treated. If you run into problems on I-5, no other highway will offer a safer drive. However, you certainly need to leave time available to make the drive alertly and safely. At 1225 miles, this is a good 250 miles farther than Tulsa to Flagstaff, and is not a drive that you want to try to make in a day, even in good weather. Plan on at least two days for this trip, or else your concerns about weather and mountains will mean nothing you the danger you're putting yourself into.


  7. Default

    well i was planning driving it in at least 2 days. probably more... anytips for driving in snow. or with chains... pretty much i newbie to it. so any info would be helpful. the trip im planning on is leaving from bham at 9pm and get to portland or around 1- 2 am and sleep until 5- 6 am and head for the passes and plan on ending the day in redding around 4 - 5 pm. does that sound about right in snowy conditions. or should i plan for more time on the second day. and the third which i have driven many times... (cali native moving back home) all the way back to LA area. maybe take the coast from san fran on home and make it a beautiful drive.

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